Story of our times

India has always had two kinds of heroes, those who rule and those who are performers. These two are the royalty and performers. In any kingdom the King has always wanted to be in touch with reality of his kingdom. The performers have always been the pride of the kingdom.
In the ancient times the royalty went a great distance to be connected with their kingdom. The Open Durbars were their way of listening to the public. They were really the original crowdsourcers.
The performers were the people who caught the public’s eye and were always treated with awe and respect
This is how it used to be even in modern times. We have put two sets of people on the pedestal, the politicians and the performers. The performers include film stars and sports stars. It’s the performers who furthered the brand equity of the nation.
Earlier the politicians really lead a public life, where they mingled with the public and reflected their sense of moment. They were interested in what the public was doing, feeling and speaking. The politicians were really public figures and lead a public life
The second set of people is the performers. They have always leaded a private life. This helped them in creating the right myth and it increased their brand value. The myth was the critical for them to stay in limelight.
This whole dynamic has changed in recent times. The politicians have increasingly become the reclusive people and the performers have become the connected public figures.
The performers have really used the social mediums to become public figures. It is now very easy for the general public to interact with their heroes and role models. Twitter and Facebook have brought them out of the silver screen to our mobiles. The fans no longer need to wait outside the homes of the stars to get a glimpse of them. They are around, always.
The politicians on the other hand have become the isolated islands. They rarely want to connect with public and even more rarely do they reflect the sentiment of public. And a few who have wanted to connect and reflect popular opinion have been pushed to the fringe. They do appear in media only to ensure that the public does not forget them.
This is a strange paradox where those who should be connected are not, and those who can do without the connection are!
Are there any implications on the world of branding? Clearly there is a connection. Brands too are about creating a myth around them, by generating authentic stories around them.
For a longtime the brands have played the reclusive game. They have allowed people to peep into their world but in a very limited sense. Even when they signed up with a ‘performer’ they have not opened themselves up completely. This has started to change now. The rising consumer power is forcing the brands to open up and truly become public. They are now forced to create communities, give up control and really become friends with consumers. They are discovering that it pays to be open about the brand myth, make their audience an insider and be open. They are willingly giving up practices that used to infuriate their audience and bringing more and more and more truth in brand communication. I agree that this trend is not really a dominant theme, and many brands are still in reclusive mode. It’s only a matter of time before they catch on.
Earlier the politicians used to Crowdsource to increase their appeal, now the brands are doing the same.
Wonder why the politicians are not learning?

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